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Empty Nester No More: Boomers Brace for Parental Tenants

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The number of multi-generational households is likely to double over the next few years, according to a recent report published by PulteGroup, a national homebuilding company.

Thanks to a rapidly aging population and a down economy, more and more baby boomer homeowners are seeing their adult children return to the nest, or are faced with the decision of allowing elderly parents to reside in the familial abode.

This trend has been gradually gathering momentum over the past few years.

According to a different study by the Pew Research Center, 2008 marked a record year for multi-generational living, with 49 million Americans residing in a household containing two or more adult age groups. About 20 percent of seniors (aged 65 and older) reported staying in a house with multiple generations.

The PulteGroup survey found that a significant number of middle-aged adults are either already living with aging parents, or expect that they will have to do so in the future.

72 percent of these homeowners anticipate having to revamp their current residence, or purchase a new one to accommodate their senior tenants.

According to the survey, the caregiver wish list for home modifications includes a number of different features: more bathrooms, separate living areas (mother-in-law suites) and more expansive family rooms.

Women were more likely than men to place a high value on personal space, with 62 percent saying they desired distinct living areas for aging relatives.

A difficult decision for caregivers

There's no easy answer to the question: Should I move my parent into my home?

Adult children often struggle when deciding whether their elderly parent(s) should move in with them, enter a senior housing community, or continue living on their own.

There are many factors to take into account when pondering the living-with-family option—individual family dynamics, your loved ones' health conditions, availability of space, financial considerations, etc.

Moving an aging relative into your home may make financial sense, but it's also important to consider the impact the added dynamic will have on your existing relationships. Consider the following article: Living with Elderly Parents: Do You Regret the Decision?

Respondents to the PulteGroup survey indicated their mixed feelings on the inter-generational relationship front—citing increased family bonding opportunities as a benefit of living with aging parents, while admitting that having more than one generation living underneath the same roof made for a more argumentative environment overall.


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